CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — On a 37-degree day when a stiff wind made it feel much colder, Iowa used LeShun Daniels Jr.’s 159 yards and two touchdowns and a punt-return score by Riley McCarron to shut down Illinois, 28-0.
And the Hawkeyes (7-4, 5-3 Big Ten) played some defense, too. The Illini (3-8, 2-6) had 198 total yards and never moved the ball inside the Iowa 30.
On a day when yards were hard to come by, Iowa turned its own turnover into the game’s first points.
Akrum Wadley fumbled the ball at the Illinois 2, but the stagnant Illinois offense couldn’t move the ball past its own 5.
That left senior McCarron standing at his own 45, waiting for the low, wind-driven punt from David Reisner to find him. When it did, he gashed through the Illini, breaking right and finding little but open space on his way to the end zone. The 55-yard touchdown was enough to give Iowa a 7-0 halftime lead.
McCarron had only returned one punt this season before Saturday.
From there, with the wind blowing 24 mph, the Hawkeye offense leaned on Daniels.
He scored on a 1-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter to put the Hawkeyes up 14-0 and on a 50-yard breakaway midway through the fourth for a 21-0 lead that was far more than the Illini could overcome.